Letters From the West

Blaine County Commission supports Boulder-White Clouds Monument

Idaho's breathtaking Boulder-White Cloud Mountains. (Idaho Statesman file photo)

Idaho’s breathtaking Boulder-White Cloud Mountains. (Idaho Statesman file photo)

The Blaine County Commission said Wednesday it’s drafting a resolution in support of the concept of a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument.

The commission held a public hearing Wednesday that brought 50 people out to speak about the proposal to turn the two mountain ranges and elk and deer winter habitat to the east into a national monument.

Chairman Larry Schoen said the commission will draft a resolution that it will send to President Barack Obama and the secretaries of Interior and Agriculture in support of the concept. The commissioners want the monument patterned after Republican Rep. Mike Simpson’s Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, which would have protected more than 300,000 acres of the area as wilderness.

The commission wants uses such as grazing, snowmobiling, mountain biking and motorcycling to continue in the area where appropriate, Schoen said. It also wants to ensure that the Sawtooth National Recreation Area is not undermined.

“I think the board thinks protection under a national monument is warranted, but we have some concerns about how that will be done,” Schoen said.

Obama can establish a monument without Congress simply by signing a proclamation under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is planning to join New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich in a visit Friday to the Organ Mountains region of south-central New Mexico that also is under consideration as a national monument.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West